The Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap smear test in Australia on 1 December, 2017. The purpose of the Cervical Screening Test is to detect human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. Approximately 25,000 women die each year worldwide from cervical cancer. It is one of the most preventable and curable of all cancers. Most women who die from the disease have not had screening at the recommended interval.
If HPV is found in your cells, the same sample will be viewed under a microscope to see if the cells have changed or become abnormal. Your doctor will let you know the next steps based on the type of HPV and whether your cells have changed or not. Abnormal test results do not necessarily mean that you have cancer – they can often be caused by inflammation or infection. Risk factors for developing cervical cancer include the presence of some types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) on the cervix and smoking. HPV viral infection is common, it can cause skin warts and affect the genital tract both in men and women. There are many types of HPV and most of them are not cancer producing.
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer therefore the only way to know if you have abnormal cells is to have the screening test.